The marine environment provides a unique context for students to explore both natural and cultural connections. This paper reports preliminary findings on Ecosystem Pen Pals, an ocean literacy program for 4th and 5th graders focused on using a pen pal model for integrating traditional ecological knowledge into marine science. Surveys with open-ended response and differential rating scales on student and teacher perceptions are used to share findings from the preliminary pen pal program. Results demonstrate increased respect and appreciation amongst students for their local environment and culture, as well as new interest in the marine environment. Changes in student perceptions are shown as a result of the new connections made amongst Pacific Rim students from different ecosystems and cultural communities, including Hawaii and the Washington coast. This project was developed as a pilot program to support expository writing skills, understanding of traditional learning systems, and ecosystem science. Discussion focuses on presenting a framework that could be a model for dissemination to other sites in the Pacific Rim.